Jul 22, 2013

Follow Your Passion—Or Not

Screen Shot 2013-07-22 at 8.08.31 AMMany kids I speak to are confused by the passion thing. You know what I mean. According to the passion principle, all you have to do is identify what you really like to do, what really gives you energy, and build a business around that.

It’s a huge stumbling block.

The idea of developing a business concept through a passion-driven mentality is a false idea. To kids who have no clue what their passion is, the passion thing is confusing and adds unnecessary pressure. There’s enough associated with launching a startup; why add more? When I lecture at colleges and universities, I see students beating themselves up because they have not identified their passions. The quest often hurts a lot of kids because they feel stuck. Now, not only do they feel the pressure of wanting to launch a startup, but they have to somehow identify their passion before they can launch it.

Is Passion Necessary?

Launching a startup does not require it be built around your passion. If you determine what your passion is, great! More power to you. There is one more variable to consider. But whether or not you find your passion, it may not necessarily point you to the best business launch. Passion is an excellent guide for choosing hobbies but less so for choosing a business.

Launching a business is about applying good business principles, finding what problems there are for disruption in the marketplace, applying innovative solutions, and—this may be the critical step—executing flawlessly. The quest for passion hurts students when it stops them from taking action simply because they are unsure of their passion. Some more pertinent questions are: Is there a need in the marketplace? Can I actually meet that need? What do I need to learn to implement those ideas into action?

Howard Morgan, a New York Angels investor and cofounder of First Round Capital, absolutely requires that the entrepreneurs he backs demonstrate both passion and the ability to communicate the Big idea of the business. But passion alone is not enough. “In need to see passion tempered by indisputable facts that the business is, in fact, a real business,” Morgan says. “Show me how passionate you are about making the endeavor a profitable business.”

Passion is surely a part of the equation. It’s passion that will inspire your colleagues to work 20 hours a day to make the business successful, Morgan says: “Money comes from building something you love.” But Morgan also wants the entrepreneur to articulate why the world not only wants the proposed product or service, but why the world needs it.”

Screen Shot 2013-07-22 at 8.06.33 AMChairman of the New York Angels, an independent consortium of individual accredited angel investors, providing seed and early-stage capital. He is also the cofounder of Launch.it, a free newsroom for the world.

Tune in to a great podcast interview with Brian tomorrow.

It takes a little cash to change the world.

So what are you waiting for?

About the author


  1. I totally concur. In accepting the death of one passionate idea, I felt my actual passion, the heart felt influence and drive was killed. Not just the business idea. So, with passion, let it drive you, to be your best and express yourself fully, but as they say business is business and its just business. Your passion may take a blow from the cold hard truth of cold hearted business. Your passion may melt some hearts and make your immediate surroundings a little softer. But, when business f, ils, it can feel like your heart failed your dreams failed YOU failed. When it was just the business (idea) and the cold hard truth of how it looks on paper.

  2. To follow up, it also has freed me (releasing the “passionate attachment” )- to ‘go-to-work’ everyday, as they say. I approach my business every morning with cold hard facts of what must done, rather whether or not “i feel like it”. Though passion brought me here, and when inspiration strikes I let it carry me; I no longer decide what hobby could a business, but which hobby has the potential to make money and if it will inspire and drive the economy in my community. As well, as a service that can grow, and ripple out. Rather than immediate circles, word-of-mouth, she’s a nice person repoire, a business that grows rather than whether they ‘like me or not’.
    That’s different than “Can this business grow? even with me out of the picture?”

    Potential to sell to investors, let other people own arms of it, and need employees to keep it going.

    Releasing the passion driven motivation, has made my business more ‘professional’.


  3. My passion is to manufacture my own brand name of slimline cutting tool I invested in my future by designing a product called the The pencil Trimmer. I was hurting with pain going though a break up I manage to stay focus.My passion takes me back to things I had in me I didn’t understand how ideas for the future comes to me in visions and mediation, I from Brooklyn NY bedstuy where there’s killings robbery and drugs with all those optical and my passion to be someone that matters to the world create something and be put in a certain class in life on how other perceive me. I need a Angel.

  4. Hi,

    This post was very educational and at the same time raised some questions for me that I would like to discuss them whenever you replied to my e-mail address. Thank you!

    Best regards,


  5. Passion can be looked at more than one way. If you have a passion for your business to succeed, you have demonstrated passion. You have to believe your product or service is something the world needs. It appears Howard Morgan is going to make you prove the world needs it, and that takes passion.

    What this boils down to is the same thing the multi-billionaires of today figured out. They found a niche with a need and filled it. They believed in their product and brought in people who believed in it also. It wasn’t about personal passion it was a passion to see what they created become part of the world.

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